FA Cup 1st Round Predictions Marathon: Part Three

fa cupHere is part three of the Football Lab’s FA Cup 1st Round Predictions. We start with an all non-league tie in which Whitehawk host Stourbridge.

Whitehawk v Stourbridge

Whitehawk scored two injury time equalizers in two Second Round matches with Dagenham & Redbridge last season, but could not secure the crucial Third Round tie. They retain a squad with experience at a higher level and after a good start to life under Richard Hill, they may expect to challenge for a top five berth in the National League South. Stourbridge, one division below, got an impressive win at Dover in the First Round last year but are yet to find a longer-term replacement for powerful striker Justin Richards. The key veteran has picked up an unfortunately serious injury, since which Gary Hackett’s side have scored four goals in five. 2-0

Yeovil v Solihull Moors

Solihull Moors’ first ever competitive match against Football League opposition is timed perhaps unfittingly. Manager Marcus Bignot has been instrumental to the club’s progress over the last half a decade, but he is likely to leave for Grimsby. Leadership instead comes from defender Liam Daly, whose performances have been key to Moors’ four clean sheets in their last nine games. If that defensive work is impressive though, Yeovil have kept four clean sheets in four. Matty Dolan has found his magic hat in midfield as the Glovers have won five of their last eight – four of which by a 1-0 scoreline. 1-0

Alfreton Town v Newport

Alfreton Town found it difficult to sustain themselves in the National League as a part-time club, due to limited resources. Having been relegated in 14/15, it is now a rebuilding process for the club and long-serving manager Nicky Law, which would be helped by a cup run this term. Newport County are in danger of returning to non-league but they at least got their first win under Graham Westley last week. A 3-1 triumph at Accrington, in which they counter-attacked well with striker Rhys Healey lively throughout, suggests belief is returning to County veins. 1-3

Blackpool v Kidderminster

Kidderminster have a good record in the FA Cup – in 1994 they became the first non-league side to reach the 5th Round. They have had a positive start to their National League North campaign, boasting the league’s second best defensive record. Centre-back Keith Lowe, who was excellent in League Two for York during the 13/14 and 14/15 seasons, has been among their more impressive players along with goalkeeper Sam Hornby, on loan from Burton Albion. Blackpool are similarly strong at the back and performances suggest they should be higher than 15th in the table. The Pool were the first team to win an FA Cup final from two goals down in 1953, 4-3 against Bolton, when Stan Mortensen scored a first final hat-trick of the 20th century. Statistics point to a less dramatic on Sunday. 2-0

Boreham Wood v Notts Co

Both clubs have a big budget for their respective divisions and, after a slow start, there are signs that they are starting to hit the heights expected of them. Boreham Wood have conceded just 14 goals this season, helped by ever-presents in goalkeeper Grant Smith and defender Matt Paine. With a less impressive defensive record, Notts County had relied on the goals of Jon Stead, until an injury to the experienced target man. Without him, John Sheridan has recently switched to 3-4-3 with a trio of mobile forwards in Adam Campbell, Aaron Collins and Jonathan Forte. In 1894, Notts County became the first club outside the top division to win the FA Cup, thanks to the second ever final hat-trick from Jimmy Logan. This time, they must face the cup without their star goalscorer. 1-0

Hartlepool v Stamford AFC

Two years ago, Hartlepool United played an FA Cup 1st Round match against seventh tier Blyth Spartans. They lost and looked atrocious on a night which convinced many that their Football League stay was coming to an end, though they made the great escape that year. While the situation at Victoria Park is not quite as precarious as it was in November 2014, they are only one point above the relegation zone, key man Nathan Thomas is injured and questions are being asked of a different board. Opponents Stamford though, have picked up 11 points from nine games in the Northern Premier League Division One South and have lost their last three in all competitions. 3-1

Maidstone United v Rochdale

Maidstone have shipped 20 goals in their last nine games, playing only one of the National League’s top seven in that time. Rochdale have not had the best defensive record themselves in recent years but kept five clean sheets in their last seven games, Niall Canavan impressing at centre-back. Maidstone’s attacking play will be enhanced by the recent free signing of Jamar Loza, who impressed against Arsenal for Norwich in the Premier League two years ago. With a modest League One budget though, Rochdale would benefit from a cup run. You can’t always get what you want, but Dale should beat The Stones. 1-3

Morecambe v Coventry

Morecambe have let themselves down in the FA Cup in recent years. Since being knocked out by Coventry in December 2012, they lost 3-0 to Southend, put in a no-show at Dover and, having led Dagenham & Redbridge 2-0 after seven minutes last season, they lost 4-2. The Daggers, who were relegated that year, later had a trip to Goodison Park, which would have been a dream for Evertonian Shrimps boss Jim Bentley. His opposite number on Sunday, Mark Venus, is perhaps a touch more popular with his club’s fans after a positive start to his time in charge of Coventry. The Sky Blues though were knocked out by sixth tier Worcester in November 2014, so both clubs have FA Cup skeletons lurking in their respective closets. 0-3

Sheff Utd v Leyton Orient

Sheffield United beat Chelsea 3–0 at Old Trafford in 1915, in a game known as “The Khaki Cup Final” with uniformed soldiers in attendance. Now, they face more modest London opposition in Leyton Orient, who have lost six of their last eight. While striker Ollie Palmer and winger Gavin Massey impressed in a recent win at Hartlepool, fan focus lies largely with the club’s off-field mismanagement. Sheffield United are more unified, though an unbeaten run of 10 League One games hasn’t gone amiss. 2-0

St Albans City v Carlisle

Wilfred Minter scored all seven of St Albans City’s goals in an FA Cup match in November 1922 – unfortunately for him, opponents Dulwich Hamlet scored eight. Such a high-scoring affair is unlikely this time around, the Saints having won their last three games with three clean sheets in their last seven. Visitors Carlisle enjoyed their cup runs last season, two Merseyside clashes giving them a bigger budget. Their resultant summer spending spree, which included the signings of key midfielders Nicky Adams and Mike Jones, has helped them go 15 League Two games without defeat. 0-2

Taunton Town v Barrow

Paul Cox was not the most popular figure at Mansfield Town due to the long ball football on display, but he did win the National League title with The Stags and hopes for another promotion with Barrow. They have a squad that would not look out of place a division above – Shaun Beeley, who has just recovered from an injury, was one of the best full-backs in League Two in 14/15. Hosts Taunton have a good defence themselves, conceding on average one goal per game in the Southern League Division One South & West. 1-2

Southport v Fleetwood

Southport go into this north-west coast derby following back-to-back National League wins. In last week’s long trip to Torquay, they came from behind with winger James Caton showing skill for the winner. Caton did not get much of a chance in Shrewsbury’s 14/15 promotion side, or in League One under Micky Mellon, but he may cause problems for the Scot’s old club. Fleetwood have an in-form forward in Ashley Hunter, who has scored in each of his last three appearances, two of which as a sub. The Cod Army have picked up 12 points from 5 games against bottom nine opposition in League One and have proved adept at breaking down the lower-ranked sides. 1-3

For more FA Cup tips, check out Parts One and Two.

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